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Should You Ditch Your Sports Drinks?

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It's hard to imagine a world in which sports and sports drinks don't go hand in hand. After all, Gatorade is the official sports drink of the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and pretty much any other league you can think of.

However, a review out yesterday in the Journal of Medical Ethics makes an interesting argument against sports sponsorship from nutritional supplement and sport drink companies, reasoning that "sport may have found itself lending unwarranted credibility to products which would otherwise not necessarily be seen as beneficial for participation in sports and exercise or as inherently healthy products.”

While we're not sure we'll see this relationship change anytime soon, it's an important reminder to keep these associations we may have between sports drinks and increased athletic performance in check (in the same way we all know that just because McDonalds is a high-profile sponsor of the Olympics doesn't mean eating it will help us become an Olympian) and to stay educated on what is really necessary post-sweat session.

Here, what we know about electrolytes and sports drinks from our resident nutrition expert, Mike Roussel, Ph.D.:

1. You may not really need to replenish electrolytes. It depends on the duration and intensity of your workout, that is. But know this: “Most people’s workouts aren’t intense enough to need electrolytes,” Roussel says.

2. Eat your way to recovery. You can just as adequately replenish any electrolytes lost with your first post-exercise meal (and a glass of old-fashioned H2O, of course). Nutrients you should look out for are magnesium, sodium, potassium, and chloride. 

3. Reach for something else. You can also substitute sports drinks and supplements for plant waters—like maple water or cactus water— which offer a variety of nutritional benefits.



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